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First, rat update: the traps remain unsnapped, and I do not hear any foot prints, I am sooo knocking on wood hoping the last of them were trapped.  So far, so good.
Heron update:
Wow, they are new at this. This young heron drops a lot of sticks, she has put this nest in a very wide “Y” of the branch. The building is going slowly, and the male stays away more than he is coming to bring branches.  This is how it looked early this morning.

It looks like a tangled mess.  AND — on Wednesday night they have said we will get a cold front with winds up to 50MPH!  Unless she sits there like “Horton Hears  A Who” on that nest, I am getting anxious it will all blow away.  As of now, all I see is her standing over it, looking for her mate who seems to ignore her more than help her.
I ran to the tax office to pay my property taxes and stopped by the marina to see what was exciting. Not a whole lot at all.  But here’s a few pictures.  

Now that I think about it, I saw a lot of  ‘white birds’  and no pigeons down by the one tiny pond across from the marina.  I drove by the buildings on the “island” and saw some of the same old same old ducks so I parked by the memorial eagle statue to look at the water. I did get rewarded by those carp or cat fish that suck air. 

They stand straight or lie on their backs and suck air.

The boats looked clean, air was fresh.

I say that as there was trash in the water and it looks dirty despite the blue reflected from the sky and the extra blue tint I added to the pictures.  Did not see any gators or other water birds like osprey.
I came back home   , the road was ‘less traveled’ at 11am.  I gave up my zoo membership this time around. So I drove home because I was going to pick up my new glasses at the mall. That 20/20 Superstore changed my RX so much, I will have to try them out a few days and see how the change works. So far, my left eye feels a bit cheated and might need a bit more power. I hate to think I have to go back to that damn store again to get the RX right!
On the way back home, there was a hawk sitting on a fence near the red light,
By the time I ran all over, when I got home it was almost time to fish. I gathered my goods and walked with Ringo to the lake. I discovered that my heron that fishes with me is not part of the duo building the nest. I think she is the original mother of one of them.  She was waiting for me. 

As was a beautiful pink and blue night with near full moon.  The moon seemed quite shy tonight and blushed a lot as the clouds passed by.

The water itself was reflective of the deepening shades of pink.
I caught two bream and the heron was well fed.
Left the lake as it grew dark and the mosquitoes came out.  No videos tonight,
just an artistic rendition of Ringo as we left the lake, now pray for rain, but no wind for Wednesday….

Had a great time in Tampa. Did see my nutria, DSC07535res,  81409nutriaB-1re also there was tilapia in the condo pond – how they got there — who knows — they are certainly not native.
81309carpA-1res Also on the condo pond were many female mallards with beautiful faces, and all had different markings. mallardres

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Other than some long distance birds that I get over here. the wildlife was quiet.  I didn’t go anywhere interesting to take pics this time. Just quiet family time. My Bella and Sasha were there to be my bed mates.
81309sashares Then it was back home to reality, two tropical storms about to turn into hurricanes with one as a fairly substantial one. Both could impact us.  tsana The first is tropical storm Ana due to possibly hit Florida between Miami and Port Canaveral so far. It will be a rain maker they say, winds around 70mph, that’s not too bad. The other one is worse, will be a Category 2 hurricane. That one is following behind the other one. So far it is TD #3. I went this am to stock up on food and water just in case.
100_3088res Will be watching closely. Don’t plan on leaving home, will be here to monitor and blog. I can’t imagine leaving my ‘box’ unless it is possibly Katrina big.  Meanwhile, it’s always good to be home. Today went to the flea market and got Orangeblossom-oak flavor honey, ummmm, delicious! I also bought a suet feeder and something is eating the whole block of suet in one gulp over night. I will have to remove it nightly. I do have a lot of cardinals and jays lately.  81409cardinalB-1 91409cardinalA-1
jayres One last thing, I was at a garage sale that had dept. store dummies, a few male torso and legs, if you need any, call Katy 407-690-2929
torso legs

71409abbeat2am-1res 2:37am, no rest here.
Earlier tonight I caught a softshell turtle and had to unhook it, they have quite interesting undersides,  100_2300_res but it looked more like some kind of weird alien than a turtle from that angle. The markings are quite unique really, could this be a girl and maybe the boys have blue rectangles? Don’t worry she or he was fine after they got de-hooked.  They scurried back to the water. I HATE catching turtles!
It was actually quite hot and stagnant and I was hoping to get a shot of the rocket launch, but they scrubbed it again.
In the morning I took a few flower pics, DSC06430res The crepe myrtles are gorgeous. And forgot what this plant is, but loved the red flowers on it also. DSC06421res

The moon was even still out at 8am: DSC06419res

The crow was in the tree singing a morning song
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And I had a nice lunch with friends. Came home and worked on more photos. Oh the days go so fast, summer half over – maybe El Nino will save us from the big storms this year! I don’t know, anymore around Florida all we hear about is people getting struck by lightning. I do have to watch more carefully when I am at the lake as the storms roll in,
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The clouds roll in so fast and the lightning is really getting way too familiar with humans. But the storms are actually so wonderful to listen to, especially to hear the rain on the roof at night.  But not tonight, it is just a quiet one, so quiet, I might have to sneak off and go to bed, good…morning again…

Poor Michael Jackson, I can totally sympathize with his insomnia, last night I slept two hours, actually it was this morning from 8am to 10am. If I had to go onstage like he did, or held a regular job, I’d be screwed.
I was going to go with Dee-dee and listen to a bird lecture, but I had no attention span for sitting and listening, in fact I had invited her to go with me last week and she ended up going alone, some friend I am…
I could use some liquid coma too a few nights. 71209abbe-3res

I have no idea what 8 hours is, I guess for me it is 4 or 5. Don’t get me wrong, I do like sleeping because I like dreaming, dreaming is so damn cool, you can do anything.  But here I am after 2 hours sleep in a 24 hour cycle and I am still up and fooling around on the computer.  I did see a raccoon on the porch,
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I brought Ringo in as I was not sure if he would jump that coon or not, or maybe the raccoon would think it was another raccoon because they share the same tail.
I took a few pictures with me and Frankie:  71109Frank&AB2res
Frankie was outside too, so I brought her in also. It was hot and very damp outside. Then I took a self portrait and worked it a bit,
71209abbe-2res Hey, at least I’m smiling! And I took a few pics of furniture,  SilverLionchair-1res and even cheated and took Andrea’s cat painting she did and worked that too. mussa&fish-2res It should look like this:  mussa&fish-1res Isn’t Andrea talented? She makes the cutest paintings.
Maybe I will go into my bedroom and veg for a while, turn on the news and relax, maybe read. I do want to say a special shout out to Tabbie my blog buddy, get well ASAP!
Maybe tomorrow I will find more wildlife, these hot days the only things I see are birds quickly in the early morning, turtles when I fish, and cats on hot tin roofs and porches. Even the raccoons know better than to be outside in the afternoon. Good night, it’s almost one, cross your fingers for at least 5 hours of deep alphas and dream patterns…

That was fun being among tanks of floating things. It constantly reminds one of how “grounded” humans really are.
The Tampa Aquarium was packed on Saturday and I got in free for being a mother,  that was a good deal! All around that place was glass with a vast world beyond it. Tanks and tanks of beautiful swimming life.  jellyresize Jelly fish, sharks, dragon fish, sea horses, alligators, otters and much more. Each floor is loaded with visual excitement.  I loved the large round tanks loaded with yellow trigger fish. Of course the salt water fish are so full of color and beauty and the freshwater seemed so dull in comparison.
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The shrimp were festive, the many sights prove to remind us there is much in this world to care about and try and preserve.  The world below sea level inspires one to think that we humans also started out in that gravity free, ‘floaty’, state moving about on an umbilical leash tethered inside the ‘womb tank’.  Then rudely enough, we are pushed out and dried off never to have that total aqua suspension again. Oh sure, we can swim and we can dive, but we visit the wet world as a foreigner. Nothing wrong with being a foreigner exploring new land, (or water or sky) — it sure gives us places to visit that normally we wouldn’t see, but then we must go home again.
An enormous aquarium like this gives us a view into the nooks and crannies of wet places many of us would not have an opportunity to experience.  We need places that educate us to what an extraordinary world we have.    My favorites were these big silver looking fish, 5909silverfish-1edit

they looked like they had been freshly plated, all shiny and sleek. Plus there were more than just fish, there were nesting birds up on the third level with the freshwater tanks and comedic turtles, both sea and fresh water.
Maybe the most interesting creature was the last one I saw as we were getting ready to leave,
the mermaid was wearing items I bet never touched anything but a dry cleaners…

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41009gatorb-1_edited-1 This morning went to marina hoping to find those weird cat fish. There in the water was a huge gator just looking
placid. In no hurry, the gator basically sat still letting the waves wash against it.  I bet it was about 10 feet long, it seemed so long from a distance.  Glad to see how low the water level was as I would not want to see that gator near a shore line.

41009gatorinmarinaa-1_edited-1 This was the second gator swimming around. It also looked quite long just measure it in relation to the boat!
It must be gator mating season, or they know it is Easter weekend and they have a sweet tooth for marshmallow peeps?!
41009fishfaces_edited-1 The catfish or carp type fish were there with their snouts up and sucking the air. If anyone knows what they are, email. They are most interesting to watch as they come up and down. Sometimes there is a fin that will slash through the water. 41009gapingmouth-1

There were very few birds around at all, hardly any ducks, wonder if that is in relation to having gators raoming the waters? I did find one female mallard with her buddy and she kept  bobbing ‘bottoms up finding something of interest at the bottom.
Who knows what it was, but it must have been good. I suppose the best way to bring this to an end is to say
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check out more photos       http://offshoot2.wordpress.com

I am here in Tampa spending however many days I feel like spending. There is always fun to be had with my oldest son and his girlfriend. In fact, I have met my latest grand-kitty Sasha, sashaedit-1

She is a chinchilla type persian wih big bubbly green eyes and absolutely so friendly. And she and Bella get along fine! though Bella does try and protect me from the cat every so often growling at the kitten if she gets too near to where I am sitting. bellasasha My son is totally smitten over this kitten!

he is also crazy about his fish tank and we had to go to LifeOceanic and take a look which resulted in the purchase of 3 fish, well, two and a lobster tail!  He bought a larger puffer fish, 2puffersnow there are two, though at first the small one kept trying to take a few bites out of the new arrival, but he finally calmed down and now they swim near each other. He bought a damsel that is wonderfully neon, but swims too fast to take a photo of and also a lobster, a spanish variety that looks like a giant cockroach and scurries about looking for places to hide. the-spanishlobster The fishtank is a wonderful adventure in itself, and I am hoping we might be tourists today and go check out the Tampa Aquarium. I want to see the big picture.
Meanwhile, yesterday when we were out doing real estate stuff, we saw gators in retention ponds and I had no camera with me, bummer.  But we did go by the gulf of Mexico near the ports and watch the shrimp boats roll in and see the vast ship yards with boats big as football fields.  Life is busy in this city, the roads are packed. Tampa is not a place where I would like to live even though the Gulf of Mexico is beautiful.  I am still sticking to my home base for now.  Roger – over and out – hope to have touristy pics later or tomorrow…

dsc02892The great blue heron shows up around 4:30pm usually and jumps up on the stump as if to announce his presence. When he sees me respond by getting my fishing box and rod, he jumps down

and runs in front of me down to the lake. dsc02895 But last night, he looked very funny, like some old flasher! dsc02897 As you can see, even the female Pekin duck is hiding her face!  The heron stood like that a while.  Just strutting his stuff for all to see. dsc00114 Even Carbs, the muscovy duck had seen enough. Finally as I got close, the heron jumped off the concrete seawall and stood on the bank waiting to see if he could mooch a handout if I caught anything. dsc02386 He waited for a long time, but finally I caved in and threw him a nice sized bream.  I can hear babies up in the nest! There are two distinct young heron voices squawking for some food. I guess maybe the heron thinks if he puts on a peep show, I might put out more, ha ha!

For more heron photos: http://offshoot2.wordpress.com

dsc03607chnaukahbuhsb-1

dsc03595 For years I have had the most pathetic looking “Chanukah bush” ever.  It was meant just to be a place holder, a traditional holiday tree for the Chanukah/Christmas presents to go around. We celebrate both holidays because there were two traditions with parents of mixed faith. The Chanukah/X-mas bush I put up closer to X-mas goes up in ten minutes being that it is a midget 2 feet high and I slap the trimmings on and the kids make fun of it every year. But it was quick to put up and take down with minimal storage. That’s the logical side of Mom.
Last night an angel visited my house, her name is Andrea Angel and she brought over a Chanukah bush extraordinaire! It was all decked out in golds and reds and she had even used some of my old, little wooden ornaments. My favorites were the glittery fish and gorgeous grapes, and of course, the red beaded birds, WOW! It looks so opulent and flushes the room with warmth. It is a glorious bush! And what generousity to have taken the time to go and buy the tree and ornaments and then take hours to arrange all this!
My little bush went into hiding after this, there is no comparison to my lack of concern for a “token” holiday tree and Andrea Angels, “meticulous attention to each detail”, blow out! But she is like that, Andrea could create beautiful, decorator Christmas trees for a living, her own tree is a 7ft elegant standout. Usually we try and get all the cats together and take their holiday picture under her tree. This year, because they were so closely shaved, none would pose, they are still brooding over their nakedness.
Andrea is so talented, she paints too, the cutest cat pictures! But that will be another blog. For now I just love plugging that tree in and basking in the holiday glow. It makes me feel so special and loved and festive, I feel like running out and buying lots of presents for under the tree to compliment it…OH, now I get it, I understand why people always have so many presents under these bigger trees, they require more square footage, therefore more bounty – and here I thought she was an angel and did it just for me…why that little devil…

comparing-treescomparing trees, get out the microscope for mine, see it? The little green thing? Now look at what I have! Thanks to Andrea Angel  dsc035941

lifeoceanic-1snowflakeeel-1alionfishreflection-1

My son in Tampa has a large fish tank, 240 gallons. It’s a saltwater tank with an assortment of fish and rocks and crabs to make the setting very calm and so much fun to watch. He previously had a 55 gallon tank he and his Uncle Bill made about 10 years ago.  He moved to Tampa a few years ago and had a 55 gallon there,  but last year we saw an ad one day for a guy moving from his place and he had this huge monstrosity of a tank. So we had to see what the final sale would be. Usually a tank that size with all the fittings would be several thousands, but this guy had to get out of the house pronto and sold it to my son for $500. My son was in heaven.  He has learned many things from having to strike a symbiotic group of sea creatures and maintaining salt water. When I visit we are always going to fish stores and there I get to embarrass him as I take out my camera and check out the locals.
This week we went to Life Oceanic in Apollo Beach. The young man who owns it was vastly knowledgeable about the sea and the things that occupy it. Just looking at the set up of tanks and listening to all his expertise was an experience. He had lots of live rock, most of it from Bali. He had assortments of all types of saltwater fish and even two octopus. We had a lot of fun looking at everything. The owner also goes to schools and does local events to lecture on fish tanks.
The owner is a first class salesman too, my son walked out of there with more than he intended to purchase.  Prices were reasonable and if you need any info, that place has a staff to give you all the details.  Check out  http://www.lifeoceanic.com

  Gray, sunless morning. The morning of the impending cold front.
Right now it is very warm, (80’s) and very very muggy outside.
  Wings of gray have been fluttering among the humid mist.
The mockingbird always sings down my chimney to welcome in the morning.
The cranes have been down foraging in the sandy shoreline along the water. And,
the heron made a surprise appearance. It has to be about time for them to
mate and make their nests.  I am hoping to see more herons as it seems they have
been away and should be returning to keep their numbers going. I have not had a
heron standing close by as I fish for sometime now. But then again, fishing has been
quiet. Not even many turtles. Too much hydrilla and duckweed in water. The County is
trying to get us to add to our taxes by getting us to use a municipal bond to spray. 
Why can’t they offer a grant for windmills to stimulate the water, or grass carp and natural
cures without making it all about governmental add ons and pesticides? It is all about the
green and I don’t mean the trees and grasses. 
   The face of this small 13 acre lake changes each year. Three years ago there was an algae
bloom that looked like wooly clouds had fallen into the lake and were going to blot it all up.
And all the water creatures looked as if they were being starved of oxygen. Each day I would take
my rake and pull that thick sponge covering off to make sure the fish and turtles had a place to breathe. The thick glop would dry out and looked like cotton when dry. It was from all the run off by the gold course constantly fertilizing to keep it visually appetizing for the golfers. Plus many people use excessive fertilize, some have faulty septic tanks and it all adds up to lake pollution. That was the worst I have seen it.  Once the cold weather came through, the piles of algae sink to the bottom making it ‘nutrient dense’ which is another problem.
The winter of that thick algae bloom, the county got the owners of the culprit Lake next to us by
the golfcourse to take a municipal bond and they cleaned up the lake that feeds into ours.  It
made a big difference in the run off for us.  We have not had algae bloom like that in the past two years. But the non native plants are invasive and sink their roots in and grow with glee.
   This year I have a shoreline with lots of duckweed and spikey grass. Grass carp sure might fill the bill. But of course, we need permits and government okay. We do still have a few left over from
a time they introduced the sterile fish a few years ago. I heard the otters ate many. The County
has since told the owners of the lake with the municipal bond that they need more money for
spraying because it costs more. Of course that was going to happen, that’s government for you,
it’s always inflation and demand driving the price. I heard the spraying has been cut back a bit, wonder if they have watered it down even as compensation? There is still a film that seems to stain that lake near the canal that feeds downstream into our lake. It might be pollen, but sometimes it
looks like that familiar soft sheen of chemicals. We humans are awfully hard on our water sources.
   Isn’t it nice to escape the reality of human problems and the television drone of talk of politics, violence, and recession? All I have to do is look outside and something with wings or scales is busy gathering its’ creature needs. It seems so simple for them, just fend for yourself and your family. All species do this, but humans are much more dependent on everything around us. It is the complex simplicity that strikes me about nature, so easy and yet so complicated. How to eat and nest and survive the appetite of something else.  We do that too, but somehow our struggle seems almost egotistical driven, needs needs needs for the goods on demand. The creatures make it seem so unhindered: eat, shelter, reproduction, survival, they make it look like almost valiant as we humans sloppily struggle along. Ummm, sounds like a perfect excuse to go fishing, see ya later…

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